Driving the Back Road to Hana

 | Pipiwai Trail, Venus Pool and Hamoa Beach |


Aloha Maui travelers!  E Komo Mai (welcome!) to LetsgoTRAVELMAUI!  

We are back with another adventure -  Driving the Back Road to Hana.  We have traveled the Road to Hana and the back road to Hana too many times to count.  Most people drive the Road to Hana which is an awesome adventure but can take an entire day and you will feel completely exhausted when you are done!  Taking the back road is an amazing adventure you might want to try and it doesn't take as long.  Let's say it's the road less traveled.    

Map Back road to hana

We recommend this road adventure because it's a very unique and diversified side of the island.  As you drive the landscape dramatically changes from an arid/dry climate to a lush tropical forest all in the span of a couple hours .  It's a great alternative to the regular Road to Hana because it doesn't take as long and doesn't have all the switchbacks that can make you car sick.  There are definitely some sketchy parts of the road that have not been maintained (meaning not paved) by the County of Maui...so be a cautious driver and keep your eyes on the road (even if it doesn't seem like there is a road ).   If you have time we recommend staying a night or two in Hana so you won't feel so rushed and will have time to see all the other Hana sights .  Slow down and enjoy the journey!  You are on island time brah!

1. Start - Kula

Our journey begins Upcountry in the town of Kula.  Start early in the morning and drive on Highway 37 (Kula Highway - Lower Highway) south and stop at Grandma's Coffee House for a coffee and some breakfast.  This is essentially the last food stop until you get to Hana.  There is the Kaupo Store (near mile marker 35) at about the halfway point but there is no guarantee it's open...especially given the pandemic era and level of uncertainty.

2. Kaupo Gap

The Kaupo Gap (near mile marker 32) is worth pulling over and looking up to Haleakala and observe the vast and wide opening in the mountain (Kaupo Gap).  This was caused by erosion  and was almost a mile deep and cut into the core of the mountain.  The lava flowed again and filled in the canyon to what you see today.  It's breathtaking!  If you expect to fly a drone...be wary as this can be an extremely windy area.

3. Pipiwai Trail (Haleakala National Park)

(and feel the power of the 400' high Waimoku Falls)

Located in Kipahulu, Pipiwai Trail is located in East Maui’s Haleakala National Park.   See the annotated aerial map below.  You can park in Kīpahula Visitor Center and start your hike up the Pipiwai Trail.  Be sure to use the restroom before you start the hike as there are no facilities on the trail.  Be smart, be safe and be prepared.

Famous Waimoku Falls 

Pīpīwai Trail - Bamboo forest

Pīpīwai Trail - a selfie moment at the Banyan tree

The hike itself is 2 miles up to Waimoku Falls (400 feet waterfall)  is a challenge but well worth it.  Stop and listen while you walk through the  Bamboo forest.  The clacking of the bamboo chutes is haunting!  

You will get little glimpses of the waterfall about a 1/4 mile away as you approach.  When you finally arrive at Waimoku Falls you will fill the rush of air from the waterfall.  It feels like a giant turbo air conditioner.  It will refresh you to say the least.  Be sure to stay on the trail and do not venture off (people have died by not following the trail - please don't let that be you).  

Aerial above 7 Sacred Pools - Oheo Gulch - Haleakala National Park

Before you go or after you return be sure to follow the Kūloa Trail (See map) down to the 'Ohe'o Gulch.  This is a great spot for a selfie and picture of the bridge.

4. Venus Pool

Next stop on the journey is the Venus Pool at mile marker 48.  Check out the annotation below on how to hike out to pool from the Hana Highway.  

Park near the bridge and start walking toward the ocean.  You will see the trailhead just adjacent to the little bridge.  It is about a 10-15 walk out to the pool.  If you get there early enough in the morning you may be the only one at the pool.  Always explore your surroundings before jumping into the water.  Safety first and always!

Lastly, this area experiences flash floods in a moments notice.  If you start to see a trickle upstream be sure to get out immediately!  Flash floods can happen immediately.

Venus Pool Maui

Aerial View - Venus Pool

5. Hamoa Beach

Last stop on our journey, before you arrive in Hana, is Hamoa Beach.  This is a beach that is home to many locals of Hana.  Park up on the Hana Hwy and walk down to the beach.  It's worth checking out and taking a swim.  It's a real chill beach.  There are showers you can use to refresh after the swim. You are now just minutes from Hana.  Time to reflect on the day's adventure and get dinner, drinks and watch the sunset from Hana! 

If you found this article  entertaining and informative and/or inspiring,  be sure to subscribe  and stay informed about how to make your travels to Maui Nō Ka 'Oi (the BEST) !  

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